The Legalism of Perfection and the Perfect Law
I. A TALE of Two BIRTHS (1:1-8, 12-18)
A. PERSEVERANCE is Grown through TRUTH and TRIALS (1:1-8, 17-18; Rom. 5:1-5)
B. SIN is Born through DESIRE and DECEPTION (1:13-16, 22)
C. PATIENCE and PRACTICE make PERFECT (1:4, 25)
II. The ANIMATING FORCE of our Faith (2:14-26)
A. Getting on The SLIPPERY SLOPE of WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS (1:22-25)
B. A Counterintuitive Example: FAITH as BODY and WORK as SPIRIT (2:20-25)
C. Ask JESUS and PAUL… (Matt. 5:16-48, 19:16-21, 25:31-46; John 15:2-8Gal. 5:6; Phil. 2:12-13; I Cor. 3:12-15;)
III. WISDOM for TODAY
A. Our WORK Flows out of the WORD Planted in Us (1:22-25)
B. SELF Working through STRIVING or FAITH Working through LOVE (Ecclesiastes; Gal. 5:6; 1:27, 2:15)
C. You’re not PERFECT… and that’s OKAY (1:2-8, 22-25, 2:22; Matt. 5:48; Phil. 1:4-6)
Questions for Further Reflection:
1. Kid’s Question: What did you think of the chocolate milk example? What does it mean to “put our faith to work”?
2. Slowing down and looking at your life, what is being born in you each day? Is it perseverance and hope or sin and death?
3. What is your relationship with “Perfection”? Is it your nemesis? Your friend? Your judge and accuser? Your unattainable goal? Your way of life? What does James’ connection between suffering and perfection do for you?
4. What is your faith background and how do you think that has affected the way you think about faith and works? How have you tried to hold the two in tension?
5. In what ways are you nurturing the planted seed of God’s truth in your life?
6. How can the concepts of Hevel and Striving we learned from Ecclesiastes apply to our understanding of faith and works?
7. What work has God accomplished so far in Your life since the day He started? What can you imagine it will look like when He has completed it?